Sunday, January 16, 2011

The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War by Phil Nordyke

"The All Americans in World War II: a Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War" by Phil Nordyke delivers what the book’s title promises, a photographic history of the 82nd Airborne Division at war. The book is filled with numerous black and white photographs. The photographs are excellent and many that have never before been published.

The book is organized into 36 chapters. The chapters chronicle the 82nd Airborne Division’s from the division’s reactivation in February 1942 to the return to the USA in January 1946. The chapters begin with a one-page summary of that stage of the 82nd’s action. A skillfully produced map showing the locations of allied follows the chapter summary. It contains locations of allied and axis units visually showing their actions that are covered in the chapter. Next, the reader feasts with pages of period photographs of the action.  There are 30 detailed maps and 365 photographs.

This book is a very useful addition to or a great stand-alone volume for the reader wanting to learn more about the All American Division in World War II. It really is spectacular. It would be an excellent addition to any military historian’s library of college and community library.

I am a former US Army officer who graduated from airborne school in class 36-76. I found myself reading the book in one sitting. My father is a World War II veteran who served in the European Theater of Operations. He also could not put the book down until he had read it from cover to cover.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War by Stephen Grey

"Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War" by Stephen Grey is the story of American and Afghan forces cooperation in dealing with the Taliban stronghold on southern Afghanistan. It details the vivid three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala. The battle started on 7 December 2007 This is an excellent, well-written book.  Grey skillfully tells the story of how American, British, and Afghan forces took the fight to the Taliban in 2007.

The town of Musa Qala was a notorious Taliban stronghold. This was the location chosen for everything to change. A local leader decided he was going to leave the Taliban. He was joining the Hamid Karzai's government. This defection needed coalition protection.

Stephen Grey is an excellent writer. He captures all phases of this story. He covers the discussions between President Karzai and coalition leaders. He covers the particulars of the deadly combat to wrest control of Musa Qala from the hands of the Taliban. He paints a picture of International cooperation as he tells the story through the words of the British, Afghani, and American men who were there. The publisher did an excellent job with eight pages of graphics and charts to showing systematically how the battle took place.

I highly recommend this book for any reader looking for a tactical-level viewpoint on the Afghan War. Anyone interested in Afghanistan and the war against the Taliban will benefit from reading the book. I recommend for community and university libraries as well as the personal libraries of all military historians. This is the best I have read on United States involvement in Afghanistan.